Jonah Goldberg still churns out a newsletter, of sorts, that National Review distributes via the miracle of the Internet. I’m not a subscriber, but they post it on their site regularly for some reason. I don’t read Jonah Goldberg very much, but I don’t have anything against him. It just feels like he has said everything he has to say as a writer. Whenever I read one of his columns these days it just feels like I read it a few times already.
That’s not unusual. A lot of opinion writers exhaust their supply of insights, gags and gimmicks within a few years. The exceptions are those who have very fertile minds and a high degree of curiosity. Christopher Hitchens was an example of someone who never stopped fine tuning his worldview so he kept his work interesting, even though I rarely agreed with him.
Anyway, his column starts with the stock gags he has been doing for a long time, but the point of it is to solve the puzzle as to why the Left keeps denying the obvious about Islam. After meandering around a bit, he gets to this:
And that is why, as I argue in my column today, Barack Obama is so eager to respond to the Paris attacks with a rhetorical fusillade against Republican bigotry. It is a ploy as brilliant as it is disgustingly cynical. Obama is a co-author of this refugee crisis. As Walter Russell Mead writes, “No one, other than the Butcher Assad and the unspeakable al-Baghdadi, is as responsible for the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria as is President Obama.” Somewhere deep inside Obama’s supposedly Niebuhrian conscience even he must suspect there is some truth to this. And even if his denial is total, he must understand that a great many historians will side with Mead in this appraisal.
One of my themes here is that the Professional Right is not all that interested in understanding the motivations of the Left. They much prefer to be the foil as the pay is better and the work is easier. Instead of digging deeper, the preferred response is to just assume the Left is playing politics, dodging responsibility or scoring points for the party. In this case, Jonah just assumes Barry both agrees that the refugee situation is a disaster and that he knows he is largely responsible for it.
There’s no evidence of this and there’s plenty of evidence that Obama thinks the refugee situation is a pretty good result. Further, he does not seem all that concerned about the politics of it. You can tell when a politician is worried about how something looks by watching him change his position, often denying he was ever on the other side of the issue. None of that is happening with Obama.
The general consensus from people who have read his two autobiographies and studied his life is that Obama was a Muslim growing up. His church in Chicago was nominally Christian, but was modeled on a mosque. Within Islam there’s a tradition of street corner Imams building a following, which is what Reverend Wright did in Chicago, but waving the Christian Bible around instead of the Koran. Reverend Al is another obvious example. Holy man without portfolio is common in Islam, too.
That’s not to say he is a Muslim. I don’t think Obama is very religious. It’s just that when he thinks of religion, he thinks of what he knows and that’s the street corner Islam of his youth. Therefore he is sympathetic to Muslims in the same way normal Americans would be sympathetic to Christians fleeing the ISIS lunatics. The truth is, most Americans would welcome Syrian Christians. Obama’s instincts are 180 degree out of phase with normal Americans.
None of this is groundbreaking. As I said, this is the consensus of people who have read his books and studied his life. People who are his supporters often point to his exotic foreignness as the primary attraction. Obama’s critique of America is from the outside and his desire to fundamentally transform the country is from the perspective of an outsider, particularly an outsider who is emotionally outside the traditions of the West.
You never hear anyone in the professional Right point this out. It’s as if they fear it. If you go on Fox and talk about Obama’s own words in his autobiographies, you get branded an extremist loon. The only people referencing Obama’s writing in their columns are hate-thinkers like John Derbyshire, who may be one of the few people to read Obama’s books.
The reason for this studied avoidance of the obvious by the Professional Right is fear. When Obama was elected, the great fear of Republicans and their cheerleaders in the conservative media was that Obama would be accommodating to them. They would have no choice but to go along and, in effect, sign off on his proposals. The game would be up and it would no longer be possible to carry on like there is substantive fight over public policy.
Obama turned out to be a petty and venal guy once in office so everyone could relax and pretend there’s a real fight going in Washington. Obama seems to fine with it and may even enjoy it. He wins all the fights so I suppose he should embrace this dynamic. The GOP huffs and puffs. The “right-wing attack machine” goes into high gear. Then, Obama wins and he feels like a hero. Everybody is happy.